Sailing and Diving in and around PhuketOne of the major assets of Phuket as a flourishing vacation resort is its abundance of diving destinations, all offering a fantastic underwater world of tropical fishes and coral formations, so exotic and colourful. Take a yacht to these fabulous dive sites and be totally independent. From Phuket, all sorts of diving tours are organized lasting from half a day to two weeks. The nearest are sites off the west coast where you can explore soft and hard coral reefs, with a large variety of tropical marine life.
Much more popular are trips to islands lying to the south and east of Phuket, including Coral Island (Ko He) with its very beautiful natural scenery; Ko Racha, with dives of up to 30 metres; Shark Point, a favorite sleeping spot of leopard sharks and stingrays; Ko Dok Mai offering an impressive wall dive and a series of cave dives; and Ko Phi Phi where you can see white-tip sharks, stingrays and moral eelTruly world-class diving sites are located farther away, including Ko Similan, Ko Surin, Ko Tarutao and Burma Banks. All the first three island groups are marine national parks which offer magnificent coral gardens. Many big diving companies offer extended three to seven-day trips on live-aboard dive boats to these destinations.
Phuket, with its surrounding Andaman Sea, boasts a large number of dive companies, the majority of which are located at Patong, Kata and Karon beaches. Others can be found in Phuket town and Chalong Bay.
Apart from day trips, all dive companies also offer the introductory course and the full range of PADI courses for learners. They are staffed with qualified instructors who are members of PADI or NAUI, and provided with all sorts of modern equipment, which are also available for hire.
The best diving months are December to May when the weather is good and the sea is very clear.
Some islands in Phang-nga Bay and the sea off Krabi, contain caves accessible through small openings which are immersed in sea water at high tide but which are just a few feet above water when the tide is at the lowest. The world inside these undersea caverns is wonderful. The water is calm and clear, the sand is white and powdery, and the mangroves grow better than elsewhere.
Thailand has rapidly become an important golfing destination of Asia, boasting well over 100 golf courses scattered throughout the country. Many of them are newly opened with lush surroundings and superbly equipped clubhouses. The rapid booming of golfing facilities in Thailand has been attributed to several factors including the favourable weather conditions throughout the year and the comparatively low green fees and caddy fees. Phuket and the neighbouring provinces of Phang-nga and Krabi boast a number of world-class golf courses. Some were designed by well-known international architects and golfers. The courses are set amidst lush mountains and some overlooking the crystal Andaman. Accommodations are also provided in some courses.
There are four challenging 18-hole golf courses in Phuket -- Banyan Tree Club at Bangthao Beach, Blue Canyon Country Club in Thalang District, Phuket Country Club and Loch Palm in Kathu District. All the courses, built on former tin-mine sites, have their own natural beauty and also offer a pleasant walk for non-golfers.
Phuket is a top gamefishing destination in Southeast Asia. Indeed, the list of fighting fish species available in the Andaman Sea around Phuket is as long as one to be found in a game fisherman's handbook. They include Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Giant Trevally, King Mackerel, Wahoo, Cobia, Barracuda, Rainbow Runner, Dolphin Fish, Queen Fish and African Pompano.
The available fishing grounds in the Phuket area extend far beyond the nearby waters, to Krabi, a province about 75 km to the east of Phuket, the two Phi Phi Islands and the Similan Islands. To meet the needs of the ever increasing game fishers, more and more charter companies have sprung up in Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi in the last few years, offering boats and equipment for hire, including professional flying-deck boats..
To satisfy the needs of foreign tourists, especially those from Europe who enjoy horseback riding, riding clubs have been set up in Phuket. Instructors are available for beginners. And those accomplished riders can walk their horses to admire the natural beauty, or seek adventure by riding at a canter through the forests, along the beaches or over the hills.
This sport is popularly played on Kata beach which is peaceful and has very nice waves. Besides Kata, surfing is possible at most of Phuket's beaches, including Surin, Kamala, Karon and Naihan beaches. Anyway, a greater number of shops selling and renting boards can be found at Kata. The ideal surfing period is from May till November though surfing trips are mostly organized during October and November.
A surfing competition is held annually on Kata beach around September or October when the wave and weather conditions are perfect. Though it's not a grand tournament, there are contestants and spectators coming to join this joyful event from all parts of the world.